By  on August 12, 2005

NEW YORK — Driven by the global launch of Curious by Britney Spears, fourth-quarter results reported by Elizabeth Arden Thursday showed a narrower net loss on higher sales.

The loss for the period ended June 30 came in at $4.5 million, or 16 cents a diluted share, which compares with a loss of $28.5 million, or $1.12 per share, in the same period last year. Net sales rose 21 percent to $187.1 million from $154.6 million.

For the year-end period, net income was $37.6 million, or $1.25 a share, which compares with a loss of $37.4 million, or $1.66. Sales rose 10.6 percent to $920.5 million from $832 million, exceeding company expectations. Net loss and income for the quarter and year are attributable to common shareholders.

Fueling sales was the Britney Spears Curious fragrance, which was distributed to additional retailers in the U.S. Also bolstering results were increased sales of Elizabeth Arden skin care and color products.

"This year was another successful year for our company, particularly from a product development and brand-building standpoint. Not only did we experience significant growth for the Elizabeth Arden brand ... but we built the Britney Spears Curious brand into the number-one woman's fragrance launch," said Scott Beattie, chairman and chief executive officer of the company, in a statement.

The gross margin rate in the quarter expanded to 45.1 percent from 41.7 percent in the prior year. Selling, general and administrative expenses increased 18 percent for the quarter, but decreased as a percentage of net sales.

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